Recent Posts

Why Do I Need Vitamin D? – The Sun – Hormone for Strong Bones

Let the sun in. Today we are going to have a further look on probably one of the most important and versatile of the essential vitamins, which actually isn´t a vitamin at all. The talk is of vitamin D. And that is why we want…

What is Cobalt used for? – The Foundation of Cobalamin

Today we want to have a look on a rather unpopular and sometimes unknown essential micro element, named cobalt. But as we are going deeper into investigating this mineral under the question “What is Cobalt used for? – The Foundation of Cobalamin”, we will see…

The Health Benefits of Copper – Metal meets Blood

cocoa

Today we want to talk about a micro element, which is a metal, often used in electrical wiring. We are talking about the essential micro element copper. Yes, not only electric current needs a conductor, we also. Moreover, we want to find out “The Health Benefits of Copper – Metal meets Blood”. And we will discover from where you can get it, how much you need of it and what else might be of interest about copper.


Why does copper as a metal meets blood?

red blood cells

Copper is an essential micro element, which is of high importance for our blood circulation. And that is because copper helps to form hemoglobin, which is an iron containing protein structure. This structure is responsible for the red color of our blood, but additionally for something much more important. It is an oxygen transporter because oxygen is bound to iron in this structure.

Through the narrow interconnection with the essential macro element iron, as it has an effect on the iron metabolism, it also has an effect on the formation of red blood cells in our body.

 

So now we know that copper has a crucial function in our blood circulation, as it sets the foundation for a proper transport of oxygen, which is a must. And we will find out later, what other health benefits are offered by copper.

 

What is Copper?

Copper is a heavy metal and a metalloid.

In nature, it is often found as compounds like sulfide, chloride or carbonate.

Copper is an essential micro or trace element, which we have to get through our nutrition.

 

What is the demand of Copper?

Depending on the age, health and lifestyle the daily demand for an average and healthy adult for copper is about

1000 micrograms (μg) per day.

 

Where can you get Copper from (Top foods)?

Here are the Top foods, which are rich in copper:

cashew-nut1. Cacao (up to 4000 μg/100g),

2. Nuts like cashews (up to 3500 μg/100g)pulses

3. Pulses like beans, cheese (up to 1200 μg/100g)

4. Fish like salmon (up to 1000 μg/100g)

5. Grains (up to 600 μg/100g)

6. Artichoke, black salsify (up to 300 μg/100g)

salmon

 

artichoke

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are the functions and benefits of Copper?

Here we want to have a closer look at the most important functions and benefits of copper in our body.

Formation of hemoglobin and red blood cells 

As we already learned above, copper helps to lay the foundation of the oxygen transport with iron, as it helps to form the red blood pigment hemoglobin, which transports oxygen bound to iron.

Function within the iron metabolism

Besides the interdependence of copper with iron in our blood circulation, copper is also there to support the absorption of iron in the gut.

Function within the energy metabolism

Another huge and important benefit of copper can be found in our energy metabolism. There it helps to build several proteins/enzymes, that are used to generate energy for our body out of macro nutrients. The pigment protein cytochrome, for example, ensures the energy generation in the mitochondria.

Other functions and benefits of copper in our body

Furthermore, copper helps to stimulate our immune system, works as an antioxidant and is responsible for the pigmentation of our skin and our hair.

Copper is also there to promote the formation of hormones, such as adrenaline and it helps to maintain a firm connective tissue, as it is a there to build collagen.

 

What deficiency symptoms of Copper exist?

A deficiency in copper can be accompanied by a deficiency in iron, as these two minerals correspond with each other within the absorption in the gut. Other risk factors are of course a poor diet, diarrhea or excessive exercising. Illnesses like celiac disease, Crohn´s disease or mucoviscidosis are potentially risky concerning the right amount of copper. A specific case of a copper metabolism disorder is the genetically inherited disease called Menkes-disease, which limits the absorption of copper in the gut dramatically. Typical symptoms of a deficiency are:

  • fatigue and weakness
  • anemia
  • disorders in the nerve system

 

What overdose symptoms of Copper exist?

An overdose of copper is very seldom and not usual in a balanced nutrition. Only special conditions like the disease Wilson´s disease, which decreases the excretion of copper are risk factors. Light overdoses are excreted through the urine. An overdose exists with copper values over 120 – 130 μg/dl blood.

 

What else may you have to consider about Copper? 

Value in our body

The amount of copper in our body is about 80 – 100 mg. About 40% of it can be found in the muscles, 15% in the liver and 10% in the brain.

Antagonists and Advice

Natural antagonists of copper are especially iron and zinc. If the level of copper is low, then it is most likely that the level of iron is also low. Other antagonists, which have an effect on the copper metabolism are calcium, phosphorus, sulfur and molybdenum.

The proper copper concentration is provided by ATP (adenosine triphosphate, energy carrier).

The liver can be a depot for copper.

In small doses copper also has an antibacterial effect.

Discovery and Use

Copper is long known, probably for about 10.000 years.cyprus

Etymology

The word “copper” comes from the Latin word “cuprum” and “aes cyprium”, which describes, that copper was once predominantly mined on Cyprus.

 

Summary:

As we now know how important copper is for our metabolism, it should be held on the right level, especially through nutrition. Copper is not only responsible for the proper distribution of iron, and therefore oxygen in our body. But it is also there to support our energy metabolism with the right enzymes to produce energy out of the macro nutrients. Furthermore, it plays a role in our immune system, our adrenal system and the formation of pigments. Good sources of copper in food are cacao, nuts and pulses.


Now to you. What do you think? What else do you want to know? Would you like to add something? Let us know in the comments.

Why is Vitamin C so Good for You? – The Radical Catcher

In this blog post, we are talking about probably the best-known vitamin of all known essential vitamins for us. And it is vitamin C, which definitely has so many important benefits for us, that we cannot do without it. So we will get to know,…

Do We Need Iodine? – The Thyroid Gland Guard

Switching over to iodine, we are getting over to another interesting essential micro element. It is imaginable that not all of us think that iodine is an essential micro element at all. But in this post, we will find a specific answer to the question…

Why is Vitamin B12 So Important? – The Enzymatic Generator

nori

One of the much-discussed vitamins will be our topic for today. And by that, I mean vitamin B12, which completes our team of essential players in the vitamin b-complex-family. Like other vitamins of the vitamin B complex, it also plays an important role in our metabolism. Now we will discover the most important aspects of cobalamin, which is the known chemical name for vitamin B12. And we will find an answer to the question “Why is Vitamin B12 so Important? – The Enzymatic Generator”. And moreover, we will have a look on possible sources for this necessary vitamin.


Why is Vitamin B12 like an Enzymatic Generator?citroen b12

As you may have read the other blog posts about the essential vitamins of the vitamin B group, you surely have noticed, that they all play an important role in our metabolism. And this is also not different for vitamin B12.

Although we only need a small amount of vitamin B12 or cobalamin, it fulfills two essential tasks in our body. Firstly it is there for the formation of new cells and genetic material and secondly, it supports the proper function of our nerve system.

These two tasks are achieved by the function of vitamin B12 as a coenzyme in enzymatic reactions. There it serves as a generator for new organic material. So this process can be compared to the motor of a car, which is there to supply the energy to the wheels in order to make the car moving forward. For us, it is just the same. Vitamin B12 is there to supply our body with the foundation to build new cell material as well as material for our nerve cells. That gives us the possibility to move our body and to do the things we want to do at ease.

So if we want to be in good health with a proper cell formation, we need to have a look on our vitamin B12 level. And that is not only the case for vegetarians or vegans, but also for people consuming animal products. The reason for that is, that you may lack in absorbing enough vitamin B12 through your gut. We will discuss this issue later in this article. So stay tuned and take the time to educate yourself about this amazing and essential vitamin.

 

What is Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 is the eighth and last vitamin of the essential vitamins in the vitamin-b-complex, which we have to get through our nutrition.

It is water-soluble, works as a coenzyme and comes with a central cobalt atom. Therefore it is an organo-metallic compound and got its chemical name cobalamin from. It exist two biologically active forms, namely adenosylcobalamin and methylcobalamin. The common exact chemical name cyanocobalamin represents actually the inactive synthetical form.

 

What is the demand of Vitamin B12?

Depending on the age, health and lifestyle the daily demand for an average and healthy adult for the essential vitamin B12 is

2,5 micrograms (μg) per day.

 

Where can you get Vitamin B12 from (Top foods)?

fish

Here are the Top foods, which are rich in vitamin B12:

1. Chlorella (up to 100 μg/100g)algae

2. Fish and Meat (up to 10 μg/100g)

3. Cheese and eggs (up to 3 μg/100g)

egg

 

cheeseTip: It is not yet clear, whether the algae Nori (up to 15 μg/100g) is a good source for vitamin B12. In order to not get B12-analogues,
it is recommended to take a supplementation instead of plant based vitamin B12 sources.

 

 

What are the functions and benefits of Vitamin B12?

In the beginning of this blog post, we have discussed the two important tasks of vitamin B12 in our body, namely the formation of new cells and genetic material on the one side and its support within the nerve system by helping to produce new nerve cells on the other side.

Cell formation and function for our nerve system

In our metabolism vitamin B12 is there to form new cells by supporting cell division. Moreover, it is there to promote the formation of new blood cells, new cell membranes, hormones, neurotransmitters and myelin sheath, which is the hull of the nerve fibre. And finally, vitamin B12 is necessary to build new genetic material, which is essential for the DNA synthesis.

Function as a coenzyme

Vitamin B12 only participates in two enzymatic reactions. The first reaction serves for the process of building methionine. Is this process not complete, then there is the danger that high amounts of homocysteine will be built, which has the potential to damage the blood vessels and therefore promote arteriosclerosis.
The second reaction is the function of vitamin B12 to participate in the citrate cycle, which is a cycle to serve us with energy by the oxidative degradation of organic material. When there is not enough vitamin B12 present, then an intermediate product, namely methylmalonic acid, will be formed in high amounts. It has the potential to damage parts of our nerve cells, which can cause disorders in our motor skills.

Detoxification

Vitamin B12 also works as a detoxifier. This can be seen by its ability to reduce the amount of homocysteine and methylmalonic acid, which are potentially toxic for us. Moreover, it has the ability to bind the toxic compound cyanide and forms cyanocobalamin. For example cyanide can develop within the burning of plastic. Vitamin B12 is also able to detoxify nitrogen monoxide as it forms nitrosocobalamin. Nitrogen monoxide is irritating to mucous membranes and can have a negative effect on hemoglobin, the red blood pigment.

 

What deficiency symptoms of Vitamin B12 exist?

A hypovitaminosis of vitamin B12 is possible and not so seldom. Some risk groups are people with an insufficient nutrition or people with an inability to absorb vitamin B12 due to a missing enzyme, called the intrinsic factor. The symptoms can be as followed:

  • pernicious anemia (blood poorness due to a lack of vitamin B12)
  • funicular myelosis (damage in the central nerve system)
  • insensitivity in hands and feet
  • weakness
  • psychosis
  • lack of concentration

 

What overdose symptoms of Vitamin B12 exist?

A hypervitaminosis of vitamin B12 is possible through supplementation by injection. Seldom this results in an allergic reaction or acne.

 

What else may you have to consider about Vitamin B12? 

Value in our body

Vitamin B12 is accumulated in the liver and in the kidneys. The liver can store up to 2000 – 5000 μg of vitamin B12. Its half-life period is about 450 – 750 days.

cobalt

Antagonists and Advice

Vitamin B9 (folic acid), vitamin B7 (biotin) and vitamin B12 (cobalamin) are dependent on each other.

Discovery and Use

Vitamin B12 was discovered in 1926 as the anti-pernicious factor (pernicious from the French word “pernicieux”, which means harmful). In 1948 it was first possible to isolate the crystalline form of cobalamin.

Etymology

The word cobalamin comes from the wordcombination “cobal(t) + (vit)amin”.

 

Summary:

As we can see vitamin B12 is such an interesting and amazing essential vitamin for us and for our protein metabolism. It does not only support us with the formation of new cells, may it be blood or nerve cells, but it also helps our nerve system to function properly as it works simultaneously as a detoxifier. Some algae, such as chlorella and maybe nori and animal products, such as fish, meat, eggs and cheese are good sources for your daily amount of vitamin B12.


Let us know what do you think about this topic? What was interesting here for you? What else do you know about cobalamin? Please leave a comment below.

Does Selenium Help The Body? – The Inner Defender

The third essential micro element in our row is selenium. It is well-known by many and today we will find an answer to the question “Does Selenium Help The Body? – The Inner Defender”. We will also get to know, how much you need of…

What is Vitamin B9 Good for? – The Creator for New Life

The second last of the vitamin b-complex-family is vitamin B9, also called folic acid. Like other vitamins of the vitamin B complex, it also plays an important role in our metabolism. Today we are going to have a closer look on vitamin B9. And we…

The Importance of Iron in Our Body – The Oxygen Carrier

hemp seeds

Let´s get on with the second essential micro element. And this is iron. We will get to know “The Importance of Iron in the Body? – The Oxygen Carrier”. We will also find out what is special about iron, how much you need of it, from where you can get it and what else might be interesting about this micro element.


Why can we call Iron the Oxygen Carrier?

diver with oxygen tank

The main and most important tasks of iron are the transport, conversion and storage of oxygen in our body.

Metaphorically we can imagine this like the oxygen supply of a scuba diver. The oxygen tank is the place, where the oxygen is stored. If the diver is under water and needs to breath, the oxygen from the tank is transported through the hose of the oxygen supply and enters our body through the mouthpiece. In the lung, the oxygen will be converted to be absorbed into the blood.
Then the same procedure happens in our body.

The absorbed oxygen is stored in the red blood pigment heme, so it can be transferred through the blood to the regions, where oxygen is needed. There the oxygen is converted and is emitted.

So now we know that iron is essential in the oxygen distribution and therefore in all processes of our metabolism.

 

What is Iron?

Iron is an essential micro or trace element, which we have to get through our nutrition.

It is a long known metal, is water-soluble, but can also build insoluble compounds with oxalic acid for example. In the human body iron ions mostly are present as iron (II), which are water-soluble and iron (III), which are not easily water-soluble. On the earth, it is often found bound to iron ore.

Normally iron is odorless, but as iron comes in contact with our skin, the typical metal-like smell develops because of a reaction of the sweat and the fat on our skin with the iron.

 

What is the demand of Iron?

Depending on the age, health and lifestyle the daily demand for an average and healthy adult for iron is about

8 – 18 milligrams (mg) per day.

amaranth

 

Where can you get Iron from (Top foods)?

Here are the Top foods, which are rich in Iron:

1. Hemp Seeds (up to 40 mg/100g),

2. Pumpkin Seeds (up to 12 mg/100g)pumpkin-seeds

3. Amaranth, quinoa and millet (up to 9 mg/100g)

4. Pistachios, egg yellow and mushrooms (up to 7 mg/100ml)

5. Green leafy vegetables like spinach, basil, dill, parsley and lamb´s lettuce
(up to 4 mg/100ml)
spinach

An overall good vegan source for iron is the algae chlorella (225 mg/100g). Meat and whole grains are other good sources for iron.

 

What are the functions and benefits of Iron?

As already described above, the most important function of iron is its effect on the oxygen cycle, which includes activation, transport, electron release and storage of oxygen. Moreover, it is indispensable in the blood formation and the energy metabolism.

Iron plays a role mainly in three different enzyme classes:

Classes of enzymes for oxygen transport and energy metabolism

Class 1 – Heme

In the cofactor heme b iron is the central atom, which can be found in hemoglobin (protein, which binds oxygen in the red blood cells), myoglobin (muscle protein, which contains a heme group to bind oxygen) and cytochrome (working within the respiratory chain in redox reactions, which are necessary in the energy metabolism).

Class 2 – Iron- Sulfur – Cluster

This is a compound in enzymes, which is used in the respiratory chain. The respiratory chain is a process in our body to generate energy for example by supplying energy on the cellular level.

Class 3 – Other non – heme – iron enzymes 

These enzymes exist in humans, as well as in other species, for example in bacteria. For humans, there are enzymes used in the formation of the DNA or in the detoxification of hydrogen peroxide in the cells.

Important proteins for oxygen storage and transport

The most important proteins, which store oxygen are ferritin (20%) and its degradation product hemosiderin (37%). Transferrin is crucial for the transport of iron, although it only contains about 0,4 % of the whole amount of iron in our body.

 

What deficiency symptoms of Iron exist?

Risk factors for a deficiency are blood loss, menstruation and special diets like veganism or vegetarianism. For blood loss it is common to use the relation of 1 mg iron per 2 ml of lost blood.

Symptoms caused by a lack of iron can be as followed:

  • dry/weak skin, hair loss and fragile nails
  • anemia
  • inflammations in the mouth region
  • heart insufficiency
  • circulatory system problems
  • vertigo
  • lack of concentration
  • headache

 

What overdose symptoms of Iron exist?

An overdose of iron through nutrition is rare. A supplementation of iron should only be done if necessary. Symptoms of an overdose of iron can be:

  • hemochromatosis (iron overload, because more iron is absorbed in the upper gut, mostly a genetic disorder)
  • Parkinson´s disease/Alzheimer´s disease (more iron is found in the brain)

 

What else may you have to consider about Iron? 

Value in our body

The amount of iron in our body is about 2 – 5 grams. About 66 % of it can be found in hemoglobin. About 35 % can be found in ferritin, hemosiderin (20%), myoglobin (5%) and non-heme-iron-enzymes (10%). The little rest is found in transferrin and other iron-containing enzymes.

Antagonists and Advice

Milk, coffee, tea, pulses and other minerals such as calcium decrease the absorption of iron in the gut.tea and coffee

Another group of antagonists is food containing phytic acid, like pulses, grains and oilseeds. Soak pulses in water to reduce the phytic acid. This is the same aspect as it is for zinc.

As oxalic acid in spinach is also able to bind iron and make it insoluble, it is recommended to eat it together with vitamin C rich food, as it has the ability to increase the absorption rate of iron again.

Another very important antagonist, which on the other side helps to increase the absorption rate of iron in the gut, is the essential micro element copper.

Discovery and Use

Iron is long known. There is the term the “iron age”. That there is iron in the blood was already known since the beginning of the 19th century.

Etymology

The word “iron” has some different origins. One comes from the Latin word “ira”, which means anger, which stands for the strong solidity of iron. There are also old Germanic origins like “isarn”, which forms the German word “Eisen”.

The element Fe from the periodic table comes from the Latin word “ferrum”.

 

Summary:

We need iron just like the air we breathe in order to use the oxygen from the air we breathe in our body and in our cells. Iron is necessary to convert, transport and store oxygen, which occurs within enzymatic proteins. Therefore, iron also promotes the energy metabolism and the formation of blood and the DNA. Hemp and pumpkin seeds, amaranth and green leafy vegetables are nice sources of iron in food.


Now to you. What do you think? What was interesting here or do you want to know something else? Let us know in the comments.

What are the Health Benefits of Zinc? – The Immune Responder

Hello and welcome to the start of the, in depth, series about the essential micro or trace elements as minerals. As it is sure for most of the micro elements, which we will discover here, that they are essential for us, there will be some…